'The Voice': Can the show produce a superstar?
This season of "The Voice" dismissed every possible question about its singing-competition superiority except one: Can it produce a Kelly Clarkson-size superstar?
Well, they will certainly try Monday night (at 8 on NBC/4) -- as teenage country phenom Danielle Bradbery, alterna-pop singer Michelle Chamuel and harmony-loving duo The Swon Brothers compete in "The Voice" season 4 finale.
After all, "The Voice" already has navigated what could have been a challenging season -- as new coaches Usher and Shakira replaced original coaches Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green with no drop in chemistry with Blake Shelton and Adam Levine or in ratings. It's an achievement that neither "American Idol" nor "The X Factor" can claim in their most recent seasons.
No matter what the outcome tonight, "The Voice" is already a winner, with more than 14 million viewers in April, around the same number that "Idol" had for its finale. ("The Voice" season finale is tomorrow night at 9 on NBC/4.)
But what about the contestants? Here's a look at how the Top Three stack up:
HOMETOWN Cypress, Texas
BEST MOMENT Her version of Jessica Andrews' "Who I Am" during Top 5 night showed how far she has come, delivering the sweet, age-appropriate country anthem with the power and style of a pro, even tugging at the heartstrings by singing to her folks in the audience.
STRENGTHS More than her solid, pretty voice, Danielle's greatest asset is her unflappability, showing none of the nerves that would affect most teenage singers.
WEAKNESSES Her calm demeanor sometimes comes across as a little cold.
STRATEGY She needs to stay on the same track with Coach Blake. He has done a great job managing expectations for her, as well as training her to connect with every song.
CHANCES Clear favorite
HOMETOWN Amherst, Mass.
BEST MOMENT When she tackled Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" on Top 6 night, with Tay's blessing, Chamuel showed she can be current without sacrificing any of her vocal precision or passion.
STRENGTHS The most dynamic of the remaining singers, Chamuel's voice has great power and control, useful for everything from ballads to rockers.
WEAKNESSES Her "It Gets Better" vibe is praiseworthy, but it drags after a while.
STRATEGY She (and Usher) should play up how she embodies "The Voice" ethic. Danielle will likely be a star, regardless of whether she wins the show or not, while Chamuel could really use the extra boost.
CHANCES The underdog ready to pounce if Danielle stumbles
THE SWON BROTHERS
AGE Zach, 28; Colton, 24
HOMETOWN Muskogee, Okla.
BEST MOMENT Their version of Loggins and Messina's "Danny's Song" on Top 5 night showed they can appeal to more than just hard-core country fans with their brotherly harmonies.
STRENGTHS In addition to being extraordinarily likable, the Swons have the harmonies to make any song sound unique.
WEAKNESSES At times, they get too tied up in the traditional country leanings of their coach, cutting them off from a larger audience.
STRATEGY After singing country classics more or less all season, they need to pick some more middle-of-the-road rock that suits their voices -- The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac -- to bring in the votes.
CHANCES The dark horse that may be peaking at the right time.